Naseem’s final-over blitz powers Pakistan past Afghanistan, into Asia Cup final

Published September 8, 2022
SHARJAH: Afghanistan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz is cleaned up by Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf during their Asia Cup T20 Super Four match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP
SHARJAH: Afghanistan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz is cleaned up by Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf during their Asia Cup T20 Super Four match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP

SHARJAH: Tailender Naseem Shah hit two last-over sixes as Pakistan pulled off a thrilling one-wicket win over Afghanistan on Wednesday to set up an Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka, knocking out rivals India in the process.

Chasing 130 for victory, Pakistan were in deep trouble at 118-9 when number 10 Naseem muscled two hits over the fence off Fazalhaq Farooqi to win with four balls to spare in Sharjah and end India and Afghanistan’s hopes of making the final.

The Afghans appeared set for victory when Farooqi, who had figures of 3-19 from his first three overs, saw two full tosses at the start of the final over dispatched over long-off.

Tempers flew when Fareed Ahmad struck twice in the 19th over, including dismissing the big-hitting Asif Ali who then angrily waved his bat at the bowler as the umpire cooled him down.

In a game dominated by bowlers, Pakistan fast bowler Haris Rauf led an inspired attack that limited Afghanistan to 129-6 after Pakistan elected to field first.

Farooqi trapped skipper Babar Azam lbw for a first-ball duck to give Afghanistan immediate hope of defending the low total.

Babar has suffered a dip in form, with scores of 10, nine and 14 in the previous three matches.

Pakistan suffered another blow when Fakhar Zaman was run out to leave the team 18-2.

Mohammad Rizwan, the tournament’s leading run-scorer and who replaced his captain as the world’s number one T20I batsman on Wednesday, attempted to rebuild the innings with Iftikhar Ahmed.

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan broke through by trapping Rizwan lbw for 20 and the batsman trudged back to the pavilion after an unsuccessful review.

Vice-captain Shadab was sent in ahead of Khushdil Shah and he delivered by taking on Nabi’s off-spin with a six and four to ease the pressure.

A struggling Shadab, with likely cramps, fell to Rashid for 35.

But number 10 Naseem had the last laugh at a venue where former Pakistan batsman Javed Miandad once hit a last-ball six against India in the 1986 Austral-Asia Cup final.

Earlier, Haris took 2-26 as Afghanistan struggled to put together any significant partnerships with Ibrahim Zadran (35) the lone batsman to put up some genuine fight.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz started cautiously before hitting pace bowler Mohammad Hasnain for two straight sixes at the end of the second over.

Hazratullah Zazai joined in with a few boundaries but soon lost his partner after Haris bowled Gurbaz with an angling delivery that clipped the off stump.

Zazai’s innings was cut short by Hasnain who bowled the left-handed opener on 21.

Ibrahim and Karim Janat attempted to rebuild against a disciplined Pakistan spin attack, which kept the scoring to under seven an over.

Janat looked to launch left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz into the stands but succeeded only in skying to long-on.

Afghanistan kept losing wickets and Naseem bowled Mohammad Nabi for a first-ball duck in the captain’s 100th T20 international as Afghanistan slipped to 91-5.

Ibrahim took Afghanistan past 100 but soon fell caught behind to Hasnain.

Rashid added some runs to the total, hitting Haris for a four and six in the final over to finish unbeaten on 18 off 15 balls.

India play Afghanistan in Dubai on Thursday in a dead-rubber, with Pakistan facing Sri Lanka on Friday in a preview of Sunday’s final.

Scoreboard

AFGHANISTAN:

Hazratullah Zazai b Hasnain 21

Rahmanullah Gurbaz b Haris 17

Ibrahim Zadran c Rizwan b Haris 35

Karim Janat c Fakhar b Nawaz 15

Najibullah Zadran c Fakhar b Shadab 10

Mohammad Nabi b Naseem 0

Azmatullah not out 10

Rashid Khan not out 18

EXTRAS (W-2, NB-1) 3

TOTAL (for six wickets, 20 overs) 129

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-36 (Rahmanullah), 2-43 (Hazratullah), 3-78 (Janat), 4-91 (Najibullah), 5-91 (Nabi), 6-104 (Ibrahim)

DID NOT BAT: Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fareed Ahmed, Fazalhaq Farooqi

BOWLING: Naseem 4-0-19-1, Hasnain 4-0-34-1 (2w, 1nb), Haris 4-0-26-2, Nawaz 4-0-23-1, Shadab 4-0-27-1

PAKISTAN:

Mohammad Rizwan lbw Rashid 20

Babar Azam lbw Fazalhaq 0

Fakhar Zaman run out Najibullah 5

Iftikhar Ahmed c Ibrahim b Farid 30

Shadab Khan c Azmatullah b Rashid 36

Mohammad Nawaz lbw Fazalhaq 4

Asif Ali c Janat b Farid 16

Khushdil Shah b Fazalhaq 1

Haris Rauf b Farid Malik 0

Naseem Shah not out 14

Mohammad Hasnain 0

EXTRAS (W-1, LB-4) 5

TOTAL (for nine wickets, 19.2 overs) 131

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-1 (Babar), 2-18 (Fakhar), 3-45 (Rizwan), 4-87 (Iftikhar), 5-97 (Shadab), 6-105 (Nawaz), 7-109 (Khushdil), 8-110 (Haris), 9-118 (Asif)

BOWLING: Fazalhaq 3.2-0-31-3, Mujeeb 4-0-12-0, Farid 4-0-31-3 (1w), Rashid 4-0-25-2, Nabi 3-0-22-0, Azmatullah 1-0-6-0

RESULT: Pakistan won by one wicket.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2022

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